Over the past two offseasons, Howie Roseman has accumulated a lot of young talent. Once upon a time, the Eagles were an aging team without much hope for the future. Fast forward to now, and the Eagles have one of the strongest foundations of any team in the NFC.
Most of their key starters are 25 or younger and they should be fixtures in Philly for years to come. On both sides of the ball, the Eagles finally have some long-term solutions at some very pivotal positions.
Let’s take a look at the best Eagles players under the age of 25 and rank them from worst to best.
Disclaimer: This list will not include 2022 rookies, although some of them will likely be on this list next year.
15. TE Jack Stoll
Jack Stoll has the potential to be the Eagles TE2 this season and beyond, but he needs to find a way to be more productive as a receiver in order to stake his claim. During his rookie campaign in 2021, Stoll only caught four passes on five targets for 22 yards. Despite his lacking production on the receiving end, Stoll should remain a factor in Nick Sirianni’s offense because of his stout blocking ability. Pro Football Focus handed Stoll a pass blocking grade of 84.2 in 2021, the best mark of any tight end in the NFL last season. His 58.2 run blocking mark could use some work, but Stoll clearly has the blocking acumen to improve there rather quickly.
14. WR Jalen Reagor
Heading into year three, I’m still holding out hope for Jalen Reagor. He’s only 23 years old after all. But if you’re out on Reagor, I wouldn’t blame you. He’s done little to nothing of significance throughout his first two NFL seasons. In Reagor’s sophomore campaign, he totaled 33 receptions for 299 yards and two touchdowns. As a former first-round pick, you just have to see more. Regardless of what he’s done up to this point, he still has speed and and quickness. He won’t be the focal point of the Eagles passing game at all this year, which could actually help with his development. In a reduced role, as long as Reagor isn’t a complete black hole on offense, that’s fine by me.
13. LB Davion Taylor
After barely seeing the field as a rookie in 2020, Davion Taylor played 42 percent of the Eagles defensive snaps in 2021, racking up 41 combined tackles, one tackle for a loss, and two forced fumbles in the process. Injuries have really hindered Taylor’s development and his playing time could take a hit now that Kyzir White and Nakobe Dean have joined the fray. Nevertheless, Taylor has a high ceiling and has proven that he can be a serviceable linebacker when healthy. It’ll be interesting to see what role he takes on this season.
12. DT Milton Williams
As a rookie, Milton Williams showed flashes of his pass rushing pedigree along the interior, but not enough to stop the Eagles from drafting another defensive tackle in the first-round of this year’s NFL Draft. As a true tweener, Williams could be a key cog in the Eagles defensive line rotation for the foreseeable future — especially if Jonathan Gannon decides to full convert to an odd-front look. Playing 41 percent of the defensive snaps in 2021, Williams totaled two sacks and 30 combined tackle. Not bad for a role player, but if he wants to become a reliable starter, he’ll need to find ways to impact the running game more effectively.
11. EDGE Derek Barnett
Derek Barnett turns 26 in June, so he barely makes the cut for this list. It’s hard to imagine he’s still this young after getting drafted all the way back in 2017. Barnett is far from a fan favorite, but as long as he’s not playing the majority of the team’s defensive snaps, he’s a fine rotational piece for any defensive line.
10. RB Kenneth Gainwell
Kenny Gainwell has a very solid rookie season, racking up a total of 544 yards from scrimmage while finding the end zone six times. He should become the clear cut RB2 behind Miles Sanders this year and could prove to be very pivotal weapon in Sirianni’s offense. We already knew he would be a stout receiving back coming out of college, but Gainwell showed great balance and toughness running between the tackles last season. Gainwell has all the makings of a great rotational running back in this league and I expect him to take a leap in his development entering year two.
9. LB T.J. Edwards
Last season, T.J. Edwards finally put forth a consistent year from start to finish. He finished the year as the 10th-best linebacker in football, according to PFF, earning a 75.5 overall grade for 2021. Playing 64 percent of the team’s defensive snaps, Edwards racked up 130 combined tackles and five tackles for a loss, both career highs. In coverage, Edwards took a major step forward last year. He earned a PFF coverage grade of 68.9, which ranked 10th among 80 qualifying linebackers. He certainly did enough to earn the starting spot in 2022, but with the additions of White and Dean, his paying time may continue to hover right around 65 percent.
8. LG Landon Dickerson
Remember when Eagles fans though Landon Dickerson would miss his entire rookie season? Better yet, remember when he was heralded as Jason Kelce’s long-term replacement at center? Both of those schools of thought were thrown out the window by Week 2, Dickerson’s first game action. Once he took over as the full-time starter at left guard, he and Jordan Mailata became a force on the left side of the Eagles offensive line. On 485 pass blocking snaps, Dickerson allowed just two sacks, eight quarterback hits, and 31 total pressures. He’s one of the meanest offensive lineman on the Eagles roster — which is saying something — and he should remain a fixture along the offensive line for years to come.
7. WR Quez Watkins
The preseason hype train surrounding Quez Watkins was palpable last year. We saw non-stop praise of him during camp and it came to fruition during the season, as Watkins recorded 43 receptions for 647 yards (15 YPC average) and one touchdown. He really solidified his spot on this roster after last year and he should continue to be the Eagles starting slot receiver in 2022. With all the speed at his disposal, Watkins has big play ability every time he touches the football. Having a deep threat running out of the slot is invaluable in today’s NFL and the kid’s only 23 years old.
6. QB Jalen Hurts
The future face of the franchise? Maybe, but nothing is set in stone just yet. Jalen Hurts had an up and down 2021 campaign. He finished the year with 16 passing touchdowns to nine interceptions, while completing 61.3 percent of his passes and posting a passer rating of 87.2. On the ground, Hurts was lethal all season, rushing for 784 yards and 10 touchdowns. Obviously, we’ll need to see Hurts win games with his arm in 2022. He has all the weapons at his disposal and a great offensive line blocking for him. If Hurts is going to become the Eagles franchise quarterback, he’ll need to prove it this season.
5. EDGE Josh Sweat
Josh Sweat has double-digit sack potential written all over him, and he began to flash some of that potential as the year went on in 2021. He finished the season with a PFF grade of 76.1, 21st out of 108 qualifying edge defenders. On the year, Sweat racked up 7.5 sacks, seven tackles for loss, and 13 quarterback hits. He did end up in the Pro Bowl as well. Even if it was as an alternate, it’s still something to hang your hat on. If Sweat can reach his ceiling in the next year or so as he enters his prime, he could become one of the best pass rushers in the NFL.
4. RB Miles Sanders
For some reason, Miles Sanders seems to get a bad rep in Philly. Maybe it’s because he can’t stay healthy for an entire season or that he tends to bounce runs to the outside a little too often. Who knows. The fact of the matter is, Sanders has big play potential every time he touches the ball and he’s clearly the most well-rounded back in the Eagles backfield. He finished the year with his best PFF grade to date, earning a 70.2 mark for the year, 27th out of 62 qualifying backs. He failed to find the end zone once in 2021, which was a bit of a head scratcher, but the team’s rushing attack is at its best when Sanders is active. Entering a contract year, Sanders could be in for his best season to date.
3. WR DeVonta Smith
Even if the team didn’t acquire A.J. Brown, I’d still be confident in this Eagles receiving corps, due solely on the fact that they have DeVonta Smith. The former Heisman Trophy winner lived up to expectations in his rookie campaign, totaling 64 receptions for 916 yards (an Eagles rookie record) and five touchdowns. He earned a PFF grade of 77.7 for his efforts, which ranked 22nd among 115 qualifying wideouts. Smith can really do it all from any alignment he’s thrown in to. He has some of the best route running you’ll ever see; he’s literally open on every play (check the tape if you don’t believe me). Soft hands with an ability to make contested catches, and sneaky speed that can leave defenders in the dust. Smith is a No.1 wideout in the making and his job should be easier with Brown playing opposite of him.
2. LT Jordan Mailata
From a rugby star to one of the best young offensive lineman in football. The Jordan Mailata story is remarkable, but this is only the beginning. Mailata staked his claim to the left tackle spot during training camp last year and never showed any signs of relinquishing it. Per PFF, Mailata was the third-best tackle in the NFL last season, finishing the year with a 88.3 overall grade. On 461 pass blocking reps, Mailata surrendered just three sacks, one quarterback hits, and 20 pressures. He’s an absolute athletic freak for the position and is only scratching the surface of what he can become in the NFL
1. WR A.J. Brown
‘The newest addition to the Eagles and he’s already the best player on the roster 25 years old or younger. A.J. Brown has been a steady force ever since entering the league in 2019. He made his first Pro Bowl in his second year, and while his production took a dip in 2021, he still finished the year as the fifth-best wideout in football according to PFF, earning an overall grade of 86.3 for the season. Brown is a do it all receiver who should fit perfectly in any offensive scheme he’s placed in to. With Brown in the fold, the Eagles have legitimate firepower on the offensive side of the ball. The best part — he’s going to be here for the next five years at least.